View Full Version : Finally, a BIRD RADAR!

19th Feb 2005, 17:32
Bird Radar Developed For Air Force

POSTED: 1:01 am EST February 19, 2005

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 29,000 acres of Tyndall Air Force Base are populated with countless bird species ranging from seagulls and ospreys to egrets, doves and black vultures.

The wings and feathers are great for show, but the birds, along with other ground-dwelling wildlife on base, pose a threat to the installation's more than $3 billion in aircraft and the pilots who fly them.

Through the Bird and Wildlife Strike Hazard, or BASH program, base personnel use various safeguards while rarely resorting to lethal methods to avert collisions with birds and ground-dwelling wildlife.

A new system being developed by Panama City-based DeTect Inc. is expected to boost BASH efforts.

The $250,000 Bird-Aircraft Collision Avoidance Radar System will scan for birds and provide computer images uncluttered by trees and other obstructions.

Data collected is expected to help Tyndall staff pinpoint area populations and their flight patterns. The mobile system is scheduled for delivery this month.

"Our main goal is, we don't want anybody getting killed," said Master Sgt. Michael Simons, Tyndall's flight safety noncommissioned officer and BASH manager. "We don't want our airplanes that are paid for by taxpayers to sustain major damage on something we have some control over."

A similar DeTect system is in place at an Air Force bombing range in North Carolina; however, DeTect president Ron Merritt said Tyndall will be the first Air Force base where the system is used.

"There's a number of reasons Tyndall got selected," Merritt said. "One is, we're right here. I think the other thing is, Tyndall has another airframe out there, a new aircraft which is very, very expensive. When you suck a bird into the engine, the amount of damage can be significant."

Tyndall is the training site for the F/A-22 Raptor, the most expensive jet fighter in history. The base currently has 18 Raptors, each valued at about $133 million.

Along with the new radar system, Simons said Air Force officials also are considering adding a civilian specialist to help control the base's bird population.

"We've augmented the base out here with the F/A-22," he said. "National defense has been upgraded. Because of that, we need to upgrade our BASH program."

Since October, when fiscal year 2005 began, nine air strike accidents involving Tyndall aircraft have occurred, including a collision between an F-15 and a palm-sized catbird that resulted in more than $1 million in repairs.

During the last three decades, 37 Air Force aircraft have been destroyed and 35 fatalities have resulted from bird strikes, according to the Air Force Aviation Safety Division Web site. In fiscal 2004 alone, Air Force-wide damages from birds exceeded $45 million.

About 90 percent of the pilots who hit birds see them coming, Simons said. When a strike occurs, feathers and other remains are collected from the aircraft and sent to a Smithsonian Institute lab for identification.

The more that is known, the easier it is to make the area less attractive to that species and avoid future collisions, Simons said.

"We've got to share the same airspace with the birds," he said.

Driving around Tyndall's flight line Friday morning, Simons watched for wildlife, occasionally spotting birds along the tree line that surrounds the main runways. The scarcity of birds is a testament to bird-control efforts, he said.

To keep birds away, Simons tries to make the area unattractive to wildlife, keeping the grass cut at between 7 and 14 inches and minimizing standing water. If birds fly into the runway area, airfield management personnel use noisemakers to scare them away.

Still, there have been cases where birds have refused to leave, he said. One particularly stubborn egret had to be killed after it perched itself on the wing of a taxiing plane several years ago and could not be captured, Simons said.

The flight line area is scanned almost constantly. Based on the bird activity, the supervisor of flying can upgrade the base's bird watch condition from low to moderate or severe. If the watch moves to severe, Simons said aircraft cannot fly in and out of the base.

"In a peacetime environment, it's not worth it," he said.


19th Feb 2005, 17:37
Interesting.... but you could see birds on the Heathrow radars fifty years ago! Problem is, the birds don't react to instructions!

Maurice Chavez
20th Feb 2005, 11:35
Great, now fit the little birdies with a tiny transponder and we'll see them on tcas! :ok:

Big Tudor
20th Feb 2005, 15:15
There was no greater fun than to turn the MTI on the old SR1 radar right out before the day shift came into work. The look on certain controllers faces when confronted by hundreds of returns made it all worhwhile! :E
Airfield Bird Control is a science that has been vastly overlooked IMHO. The report states that they work hard to keep the birds away from the runway. That's not difficult, just get a kindly buzzard to take up residence. You won't see a sparrow for miles around. There was a major shift in thoughts about this about 15 years ago. MAFF in the UK discovered that allowing birds to take up residence on an airfield resulted in fewer bird strikes than scaring them away all the time. The thinking was that birds became accustomed to the dangerous areas of an airfield (i.e. the runway) and learned to avoid them. New visitors to an airfield just saw the runway as a warm place to rest their wings and ended up being munched.

Sir George Cayley
23rd Feb 2005, 19:14
So, you're on finals to say LHR 27R and a new voice from TWR says, " ABC123 this is BirdRad, 6 Geese 2 o'clock range 1 mile heading 180 height unknown"

Wadya doo?

Go around in your 777 and risk a multiple strike ingesting half a dozen Candian registered feathery bizzjets into both General Electrics? Or continue and fall in a heap just short of the threshold with your goose well and truely cooked?

And who then is responsible?

When you have the answer let BAA know. Pleeeeeze

Sir George Cayley

23rd Feb 2005, 19:50

Great, now fit the little birdies with a tiny transponder and we'll see them on tcas!

No need. Birds can squawk without a transponder. :O

Sorry...I'll get my coat.